76ers

Mavericks 122, Sixers 102: Disappointment in Dallas as Sixers fail to pick up the slack without Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler

Mavericks 122, Sixers 102: Disappointment in Dallas as Sixers fail to pick up the slack without Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler

BOX SCORE 

No Joel Embiid (load management/left knee), no Jimmy Butler (back tightness), and a seemingly endless stretch where every shot you throw up clangs off the rim is not a good recipe for a win.

Without two of their stars, the Sixers fell to the Mavericks on Monday night, 122-102, dropping to 49-28 on the season. They’ll conclude their three-game road trip Wednesday night against the Hawks (7:30 p.m./NBCSP).

Here are observations from the loss: 

• Jonah Bolden started again in place of Embiid and he couldn’t build on his excellent performance against the Timberwolves. Bolden had two points, seven rebounds and an assist. He wasn’t great defensively either and was a team-worst minus-26.

The Sixers didn’t mind the matchup of Marjanovic, the NBA’s tallest player, against the second tallest — 7-foot-2 Salah Mejri. It was a rare instance in which the opposition couldn't regularly pull Marjanovic away from the rim and target him on defense. Marjanovic had five points and seven rebounds in 13 minutes.

• The Sixers hit a brutal cold spell of shooting in the second quarter, missing three after three during a span of over eight minutes without a field goal to wrap up the first half. Though they missed plenty of open looks, the Sixers also settled for a bunch of jumpers, straying from their early success with Ben Simmons in the post.

It didn’t help that their defense couldn’t string together stops or force a turnover. Rookie Shake Milton had an especially difficult time keeping his man in front of him. 

The Mavs won the second quarter, 41-18. 

• With Simmons guarded at times by 6-foot-3 Villanova product Jalen Brunson and 6-foot Trey Burke, we saw a good amount of “Explosion” — the Sixers’ largely improvisational off-ball movement around Simmons in the post.

Simmons made several impressive passes out of the post, including a bullet from the left block to JJ Redick for a three on the right wing in the first quarter.

He wasn’t as effective down low as a scorer. Though he did get to the line 11 times, making seven, Simmons missed several easy attempts near the rim and shot 5 for 15. 

• There was also a clear emphasis on getting Tobias Harris opportunities in the post early. As usual, Harris was at his best in the first quarter, with nine points on 4 for 6 shooting.

Harris had a strong third quarter at the point, running plenty of middle pick-and-rolls with Marjanovic. It’ll be interesting to see if Harris can develop the same sort of synergy with Embiid in the pick-and-roll once the Sixers’ All-Star center returns.

Harris finished with 25 points.

• Life is generally good for the Sixers when Redick is hitting shots.

He did that Monday night, scoring 21 points in the first half, 26 in the game. 

But nobody else could make a three-point shot — the rest of the team shot a combined 2 for 22 from long range. 

Coming in, the Sixers had been 10-2 this season when Redick scored 23 or more points. 

• Zhaire Smith checked in during the third quarter with the game slipping away, and fellow rookie Haywood Highsmith saw the floor in garbage time. Highsmith shot 1 for 3, scoring his first NBA points since his debut on Jan. 8. Smith, scoreless in nine minutes, displayed his athleticism with a chase-down block late in the fourth. 

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Wisconsin Herd head coach Chase Buford suspended for unfiltered, colorful rant

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@ryanrodigwfrv

Wisconsin Herd head coach Chase Buford suspended for unfiltered, colorful rant

After serving as an assistant coach with the Delaware Blue Coats last season, 31-year-old Chase Buford was hired as the head coach of the Wisconsin Herd, who will play the Blue Coats on Tuesday and Thursday. 

Buford will not be coaching in those games, since he’s suspended for Wisconsin’s next two contests. The rant below, courtesy of WFRV-TV’s Ryan Rodig, is why: 

Buford’s request to tag the G League and make sure they saw his comments — along with him labeling a referee a ‘f---ing clown’ — makes the suspension unsurprising. The suspension is officially for a "direct and extended public attack on the integrity and credibility of the game officials,” the G League announced.

On Sunday night, Buford issued an apology.

You likely will not see or hear that level of unfiltered, colorful anger from a head coach for a while.

In Buford’s first head coaching gig, he’s led the Herd to a 28-9 record, the best mark in the G League. 

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It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

Updated: 6:32 p.m. 

Ben Simmons is still being evaluated for a lower back injury, a team spokesperson said Monday night before the Sixers’ game vs. the Atlanta Hawks. The Sixers and Simmons’ representation are working together to decide a course of action, the spokesperson said.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Simmons “is expected to be sidelined for an undetermined period of time” and that “Simmons' injury will have longer-term implications than simply the 76ers' upcoming road trip.”

Head coach Brett Brown said he was unsure how long the injury would sideline Simmons. The 23-year-old sustained the injury at practice Wednesday going up for a rebound, according to Brown, and irritated it in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game against the Bucks.

“I don’t know,” Brown said. “And it really is like how long is a piece of string — who knows? Who knows? … Whatever the time equals on days, games, period of time, we can talk more honestly as this thing shakes out.”

However, it sounded as if Brown was preparing for his two-time All-Star point guard to be out for a while. He framed the situation as one the Sixers can cope with if other players take advantage of the chance to play expanded roles.

There’s 25 games left. … It’s an eternity,” he said. “Just keep going back to the end game. What’s the bottom line? I’ll say it again — if you get their health and their spirit, it’s got a chance to equal form. … And it’s all about landing the plane. And so with 25 games left, we’ve taken a hit with Ben. 

"I do see it this way. I’m not spinning it. It’s an opportunity for us to learn and something will emerge. And we need something to emerge. It’s not like we were all saying, ‘Oh, here it is, it’s anointed.’ It wasn’t that. So, I think we’re going to learn something and find something. If this was six games out, I wouldn’t be telling you this story. When it’s 25 games out, it is, with all my heart, what I think. That’s what I said to the team, that’s what I really think and that’s what I’m going to try to pull off.

Who specifically will take over ball handling duties? Brown said it “will be done by committee” for the time being, and he named a few players who he expects to be in that mix. Monday night, the team will start Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid. 

“The candidates could be Raul Neto or [Furkan Korkmaz] or Alec Burks or J-Rich, Shake," he said. "So, you have capable people that aren’t traditional point guards but have the ability to get the ball up the floor. Then at that point, you’re probably going to have to be in something that has motion and continuity instead of just giving Chris Paul the ball and saying, ‘Go to work’ out of a pick-and-roll, as an example.”

Regardless of Brown’s attitude, the tangible impact of not having Simmons for an extended period would clearly be significant. He leads the league in steals, has assisted on the most three-pointers and is a highly athletic, versatile and talented player.

Though there’s no definitive timeline currently, the loss of all those attributes would no doubt be difficult to overcome.

“When there is a vacuum, as there is right now with Ben, something will happen,” Brown said. “Somebody will step up. I’m trying to see the world through those eyes, and I really do — it’s not even creative coach speak. I see it as an opportunity, and I think I need to see it that way.”

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